From some of my earlier articles, you would already know about my account of two Gods the popular conception of God as the creator and director of things, and my preferred conception of God as an indifferent (or passive) imprint of every passing moment and event in a dynamic self-made and self-driven universe.
My seventy-something maternal aunt takes the Bible as seriously as my late mother did. And my aunt earnestly believes that it is because of the sin of Adam and Eve that we die.
A few years back, with a layer of grief commensurate with the occasion of the funeral of a son-in-law, my aunt seized upon a long silence and pondered aloud how Adam had brought death and so much sorrow into the world.
So – I inquired – did my aunt believe that death came to all the other animals, birds, insects and plants in the world only after (and because of) Adam’s sin?
The soft-spoken old lady’s answer was a very firm yes. I stared at her. You needed a hammer to crack the faith in her eyes. My aunt had very little formal education, and I spared her any further complications by radiating a long sympathetic smile.
But two weeks ago, a White forty-something Western-looking lady bumped into me (or I into her). She had a youngish black Ugandan dummy in tow (they always have), a guide-cum-translator-bag-girl-and-yes-person of some sort.
The duo was doing its rounds in our neighbourhood. The White lady was very gentle, very polite. Calmly, she introduced herself and her junior colleague as “we”, and they had some reading material they were inviting me to take copies of.
There were little magazines, thin pamphlets and so on low-to-midbrow evangelical stuff.
I declined, because I thought it would be unfair to take things I would find no time to read, denying an opportunity to someone who might benefit from them.
Couldn’t I give the material a chance? Again, very politely, the White lady was worried about my spiritual life and salvation.
I assured her that my spiritual life was where I wanted it to be.
Again, politely, which faith was I?
None really or rather, I came to my favourite God, the one who neither made nor directs anything… and so on.
The White lady asked me whether the world was good enough, whether I thought we were meant to suffer.
My impression was that suffering was part of the deal of being alive, of life itself. Pain had evolved as a tool of self-preservation. We respond to pain by avoiding, flying from or fighting what causes pain. Most living things do the same.
If we were not “meant” to feel pain, then we were not meant to live. And suffering is an elaborate cultural enlargement of the basic experience we call pain.
We now know that animals “suffer”. The environment “suffers”. Albert Camus wrote that the universe, too, “suffers”. Why was this dear gentle White lady traversing our neighbourhood to market a non-existent world where there was no suffering, and to which (I presume) she wanted the Africans (including me!) in my neighbourhood to aspire?
She had obviously read far more books (if of dubious depth) than my aunt, but both ladies were standing exactly in the same square.
Unless of course we take biblical mythology for historical fact, it is useless to speculate what the world was supposed to be. The world was not supposed to be anything else. It is just what it is. Period.
But let us suppose the two ladies are right. In that case, God introduced death and suffering in the world because of man’s sin, making His action the most indiscriminate and most unjust of any kind of collective punishment.
Furthermore, by choosing death and suffering as the appropriate punishment, God had shown the example and sown the seed of cruelty from which yesterday’s and today’s perverts draw the inspiration that extreme brutality is the correct path of the struggle by which what they believe to be God’s intended utopia must be restored.
Mr Tacca is a novelist, socio-political commentator firstname.lastname@example.org.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor